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Workshop: "O Blithely Spin, My Bonny Wheel" – Exploring Work Song

Sun 7 July 2024 , 11am-4pm

Millennium Gallery

Join traditional singer and song leader Debbie Armour for a day of group singing with a focus on work song. 


We will explore what work song is, what it does and why it is so important as a practice, and as a living history of social change. You’ll have a chance to sing together and learn songs from across the world that particularly talk about working with textiles, as well as have a go at some of the textile making techniques they used to accompany. There will also be an opportunity to spend some time looking at the textiles and ephemera currently on display in the Millennium Gallery’s Ruskin Collection: Hand, Head and Heart exhibition. The core of our day will be singing a new setting of a spinning song from the Ruskin Collection archive, arranged by Debbie especially for the day. 

Everyone to this session, you don't need to consider yourself ‘a singer’. All songs are taught by ear at a gentle pace, so you don’t need to be able to read music.  

Debbie Armour is a traditional singer and musician. Her work is motivated by ideas of persistence, resonance and deep cultural roots. In her primary project, Burd Ellen, she uses British and international traditional song as a foundation to build conceptual works and explore tradition in a contemporary setting. Burd Ellen has released three albums with the last two featuring in The Guardian's Top Ten of the Year list for Folk. She is also a founder member of critically acclaimed contemporary folk acapella group Green Ribbons with Alasdair Roberts and Frankie Armstrong. Debbie is currently working on an evolving project with award- winning visual artist Ruth Ewan, using song to explore the social history of women's labour.  

In addition to her performance work, Debbie has developed and delivered a huge variety of community projects that use archive material to look at how we build community and explore how shared threads of intangible cultural heritage bring us together locally and internationally. She is an experienced song leader and group facilitator and believes in always bringing the best biscuits to the singing event. She is a mother of four, and lives in Nottingham where she runs Mavis Recordings.


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